MOULTRIE -- The Wayne County High School baseball team is just two wins away from tying the school record for most victories in a season, set in 1967 when it won the state championship.
The Yellow Jackets can get its 24th and 25th victories when the Region 3 champions meet Colquitt County in a first round Class AAAAA state playoff doubleheader at 5 p.m. today at Howard "Bo" Warren Field in Jesup.
A possible third game in the best-of-3 series would begin at 5 p.m. Friday.
The Yellow Jackets did not lose a game during their region schedule and finished the regular season with a 20-1, three-inning victory over Beach High last Friday, raising their record to 23-1.
Packers coach Jerry Croft said the prospect of facing a top first-round opponent is not daunting.
Croft noted that in 1997, the year the Packers won the state Class AAAA championship, the team had to win a third and deciding game against Lowndes in the region playoffs just to reach the state playoffs.
Colquitt then won eight of its last nine to take the state championship.
"This is what you play for," Croft said. "I'm looking forward to it."
The Packers are expected to challenge the Yellow Jackets a bit more than much of the rest of the Region 3 schedule did.
Wayne County, which takes the state's best record into the 32-team Class AAAAA state playoffs, also has defeated Savannah High 22-0 and Windsor Forest 20-2 recently.
Although the Yellow Jackets erupted offensively in those games, they have primarily counted on excellent pitching most of the season.
However, one of its two top starters, senior right-hander Ryan Aldridge, will not pitch in the series against the Packers.
Senior left-hander Barret Browning is expected to pitch today's first game, with Casey Martin, another southpaw, going in the nightcap.
The Packers will counter with senior right-hander Aaron Willis (7-2, 2.14 ERA) and junior left-hander Cody Green (4-2, 1.04) in today's doubleheader.
Packers head coach Jerry Croft said on Wednesday he was unsure which one would start the opener.
If the series goes to a third game, unior left-hander Aaron Eubanks (2-2, 1.99 ERA) will get the start.
The Packers will take a team ERA of 2.06 into the postseason.
"If we can keep getting pitching like that through the playoffs, especially in the first round, we'll be OK," Croft said.
The Packers are 19-7 and have won six of their last seven, including a 2-1 victory over Coffee last Friday in Douglas.
Willis, who was 5-2 in Region 1-AAAAA games this season, got the victory against the Trojans.
The Packers are likely to start Willis on the mound, Adam Anderson in left field, Will Southwell at second base, Jake Mobley at shortstop, Max DeMott at catcher, Chase Flowers in right field, Bernie Dahlberg hitting for center fielder Jason Beggs, Rob Cannon at first base and Isaac Jackson at third base.
When Green pitches, Willis will move to shortstop and Mobley will play third base.
Willis, Anderson, Dahlberg, Beggs, Mobley, Cannon, Chris Bozeman and Joseph Law and the team's seniors. A loss in the series would end their careers.
"You always use that as a motivator," Croft said. "You don't want it to be the last time you hear an umpire say 'Play ball.'"
The winner of the Colquitt County-Wayne County series will face the winner of the East Coweta-Griffin series.
If the Packers, who are the No. 4 team from Region 1, win the series against Ware County, they will go on the road for the next round.
But if Colquitt can continue to advance, the state semifinal series and championship series would be at Ike Aultman Field.
Also today, Ware County, the No. 1 seed from Region 1, will play host to Groves; Brunswick will be at Lowndes; and Coffee will travel to Glynn Academy.
This Week's Circulars
Robert Steven Cooper, 61, of Moultrie, passed away, Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at Tift Regional Medical Center. Cobb Funeral Chapel has been entrusted with arrangements. Please sign the online guestbook at www.cobbfuneralchapel.com.
Kennon Keith Moore, 59, of Moultrie, passed away Sunday, October 17, 2021, at South Georgia Medical Center. Arrangements have been entrusted to Baker Funeral Home.
Effie Hart Crosby, 100, of Winter Haven, FL, passed away Thursday, October 14, 2021, at her home. Arrangements have been entrusted to Baker Funeral Home.
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